South Fork 2A preview: Perennial power picked to win title after pair of Lincoln County teams had historic 2019 seasons

By Richard Walker
After North Lincoln and West Lincoln set school records in the 2019 season, with North Lincoln taking its first league title, South Fork 2A Conference coaches pick a perennial power to take the title in the 2021 winter/spring season.

Maiden, which tied for second place in 2019 and had a 9-4 overall record, is the unanimous pick of league coaches in preseason voting. The Blue Devils are counting on 2,227-yard passer Ethan Rhodes, 1,148-yard rusher Amarion Craig and 630-yard receiver Brennan James from the 2019 team.

Rounding out the preseason poll are second-place Newton-Conover, third-place North Lincoln, fourth-place West Lincoln, fifth-place East Lincoln, sixth-place Lincolnton and seventh-place Bandys. Lake Norman Charter will not field a varsity team.

Here is team information for the teams from Lincoln County in that league for the 2021 winter/spring season:

East Lincoln
Coach: David Lubowicz (4th year, 20-17)
Coaching staff: Chris Matile, David Brehm, Ryan Goggio, Matt Gallagher, Josh Robinson, Phil Lowe, Jay Roseboro, Mark Shanklin, Josh Thompson, Garrett Young
Returning starters: 12
Starters lost: 9
2019 record: 8-4
Top returning players: TE/DL Trent Smith, RB/LB Paulie Menegay, LB Langdon McCall, WR/DB Lucas McConnell, WR/DB Jeremiah Jones, RB/LB Ben Cutter, WR/DB Preston Cox, WR Austin Smith
Top newcomers: WR/DB Orlandis Howell Johnson, WR/DB Landon Glezen, QB Tyler Mizzell, WR Markell Clark
Season outlook: East Lincoln returns eight defensive starters but has to rebuild its offensive line and find a new quarterback. Former JV quarterback Tyler Mizzell likely will start as the Mustangs will look to extend their consecutive playoff streak to 15 seasons.
All-time record: 321-263-3 (since 1967)
Last 5 years: 40-21
Feb. 26 Mountain Island Charter
March 5 at Lincolnton
March 12 North Lincoln
March 19 at Bandys
March 26 Maiden
April 2 at West Lincoln
April 9 Newton-Conover

Coach: Joe Glass (2nd year, 3-8)
Coaching staff: Tom Harper, Jaden Angle, Brent Gates, Chris Carrigan, David Byrd, Josh Coffey, Mark Kiefer, George Mack, Mark Bonnocelli
Returning starters: not listed
Starters lost: not listed
2019 record: 3-8
Top returning players: RB/LB Amonte Finger, DL/RB Bernard Wingate, OL/DL Andre Smith, DB/WR/RB Deandre Smith
Top newcomers: QB Connor Williams, DB/WR Deron Webb
Season outlook: Glass thinks the team can have a solid year if it’ll stay healty. The Wolves are looking to rebuild after suffering back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since the 1999 and 2000 seasons.
All-time record: 637-379-39 (since 1921)
Last 5 years: 36-29
Feb. 26 Newton-Conover
March 5 East Lincoln
March 12 at Bandys
March 19 West Lincoln
March 26 BYE
April 2 North Lincoln
April 9 at Maiden

North Lincoln
Coach: Nick Bazzle (3rd year, 22-6)
Coaching staff: Mike Harrill, Gill Martin, Alex Pedersen, Dan Brown, Paul Regan, Charlie Goss, Mark Ludwig, Mike Sullivan
Returning starters: 5
Starters lost: 17
2019 record: 12-2
Top returning players: QB Jack Carter, FB/DL Krystjan Snyder, RB/LB Daniel Carter, WR/DB Seth Whitley, WR/DB Craig Rathbone
Top newcomers: QB Kyle Kovalchuk, RB/DB Cooper Wray, RB/DB Trace Dlugolenski, P/K Liam Sutton, RB/LB Samari Collins
Season outlook: The Knights have a rebuilding effort after all but one interior lineman has departed among the 17 lost starters. Last season set a school record for single-season victories, was the third 10-win season in history and the first in back-to-back seasons.
All-time record: 80-121 (since 2003)
Last 5 years: 30-31
Feb. 25 West Lincoln
March 5 West Meck
March 12 at East Lincoln
March 19 at Maiden
March 26 Newton-Conover
April 2 at Lincolnton
April 9 Bandys

West Lincoln
Coach: Darren Ponder (2nd year, 10-4)
Coaching staff: Adam Floyd, Austin May, Brad Newton, Chuck Mallory, Dallas Bridges, Jacob Burgess, Jared Swafford, John Henderson, Jonathan Scronce, Wayne Navey, David Avery
Returning starters: no information submitted
Starters lost: no information submitted
2019 record: 10-4
Top returning players: no information submitted
Top newcomers: no information submitted
Season outlook: Rebels come off a 2019 season that set records for victories (10), first-ever postseason victory and best two-year stretch (19-7) in the school’s 59-year history. Mason Huitt is the leading returning rusher (648 yards, 12 TDs) and returning all-conference player.
All-time record: 226-386-5 (since 1962)
Last 5 years: 32-29
Feb. 25 at North Lincoln
March 5 at Maiden
March 12 Newton-Conover
March 19 at Lincolnton
March 26 Bandys
April 2 East Lincoln
April 9 BYE